Physics classes put theory into action at Cedar Point


South teachers take on the Valravn at Cedar Point. Photo courtesy of Troy Hernandez.

Brad Kemper '21, Staff Writer

On May 22, the physics students were exposed to centrifugal force as they loaded onto the coasters at Cedar Point for their yearly field trip.

The yearly field trip is designed to take the things that physics students have learned throughout the entire year and apply it to the real world. The three physics teachers also went on the field trip.

“We talked about acceleration and velocity, and forces and how you make things go in a circle, and energy,” Physics teacher Todd Hecker said. “It genuinely incorporates a little bit of everything that we learned throughout the whole year.”

Hecker says that roller coasters are good examples that were referred to the entire year, as they exhibit things that are taught in physics.

“And so many times throughout the year, we talked about roller coasters, we talked about amusement park rides they’re really cool examples of where people sort of undergo these processes of speeding up or moving in a circle quickly or changing direction suddenly. It’s kind of the culminating event for the end of the year,” Hecker said.

According to Hecker, this is a popular field trip for physics classes not just at South, but also at other schools, like Farmington where he used to teach. The way the field trip is applied to the classroom is mostly thru a packet that students receive during the field trip.

“As they go through through the day, they kind of fill out the information, find out how much energy they have their different velocity, acceleration, what forces are being applied to them,” physics teacher Troy Hernandez said. “You take all the stuff that took notes on practice problems and apply it to themselves.”

Students like Kate George ’20 were appreciative of the opportunity to apply physics to real life.

“Going to Cedar Point was a fun way to connect what we have been learning in the classroom to real life,” George said.

According to Hernandez, about half of the physics class goes on the actual field trip mostly due to athletics, but there are also other factors that come into play as well.

“It’s all first come first serve,” Hernandez said. “We do have some basis, you know, they have to not have been in trouble with the administration, campus suspensions and stuff like that. Grade wise is also kind of a defining factor.”

According to Matt McGuire, who has taught physics at south for 21 years, there are certain rides that are good examples of physics properties.

“Some of the ones that are lame by today’s standards (are better examples of physics properties),” McGuire said. “The corkscrew is a great one. It’s an easy one to ride and we picked rides that were some silly simple rides because they were rides that wouldn’t require the students to waste two hours of their of their eight hours at the park to waste two of them on one road, two hours of that on one ride.”